J. Michael Plumb might not be a household name, but he has competed in more Olympic Games than any other American athlete.
An equestrian, Plumb made his Olympic debut as a 20-year-old at the Rome 1960 Olympic Games. Four years later, at the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games, Plumb won a silver medal in the team mixed eventing competition, the first of his six Olympic medals (two gold, four silver).
Generally recognized as one of the nation’s leading horsemen, Plumb is an eight-time Olympian. He made every U.S. Olympic Team from Rome 1960 to Los Angeles 1984. Plumb missed the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games because of an injury, but returned for one final Olympic appearance at age 52 in the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games.
Not that Plumb is impressed with his longevity.
“I don’t keep track of the trophies,” Plumb said.
Being an equestrian seemed natural for Plumb. A third generation horseman, his father was a racetrack steward and his mother was an equestrienne.
“My family put me in a position where I was in the right place all the time,” Plumb said.
Plumb made his initial mark at the 1959 Pan American Games. Then 19, he won a silver medal in the individual competition and a silver in the team competition as well. The next year, it was off to the Rome 1960 Olympic Games, starting his remarkable Olympic run.
“The biggest part of what makes Dad a ‘Living Legend’ is obviously all the Olympics and all the medals,” said his son, Charlie, who went into riding and coaching. “But what really should be highlighted as well is the character part—that meticulous day-to-day drive to be better at what he does.”